Frances Brody & Dying in the Wool

Book Review Dying in the Wool

Author Frances Brody

Publisher Piatkus – an imprint of

Little, Brown Book Group

This Kate Shackleton mystery, published in 2009, is the first in a series of eleven by Frances Brody. The cover, eye catching as it is, with its rurality of pastures with sheep belies what is contained inside. The title and the smoking chimney below the brow of the hill provide clues of what it could be about.

Set in 1922 Yorkshire where mills were producing cloth in harsh factory settings. The mill, the rich owners, and the workers are encapsulated in the juxtaposition of those that have and think they have the right too everything, and those that work long hours for their pay packets. Brody captures the social context well.

Kate Shackleton, a 31 year old widow, has been successful in tracing men who became dislocated from their families. Officers, of course, some confused from their wartime experiences and others perhaps through choice! Kate is of the right class and with contacts in the middle to high strata of society. Her prowess is rewarded by being tasked, for money, to solve a mystery. How about that! A women in 1922 becoming an investigator!. I bet that made a few walking sticks quiver.

Joshua Braithwaite, an owner, goes missing and Tabitha, his daughter wants to know where he is before she marries. That’s simple enough except what has really gone on in and around that mill ensures there is much more to it. The characters that Kate had to deal with stand tall off the page. There is talent, honesty and humility too but of course there are others who do not want the truth to be out there. The plot, not to be revealed, takes us successfully through scenarios that hold the reader.

I wondered how it would end and it did not disappoint for there was more than I expected. One last point about the label of, ‘cosy crime’. It was mentioned in the Agatha Christie programme with Alan Carr on TV last night and in my view it is an insult to the author. Cosy be buggered there’s evil in that mill.

AFTER HARROGATE CRIME WRITERS AND MORE

The hot summer sun is burning us dry. We cower and survive with aircon and the will to write is with me – just!

We are still adjusting after our UK trip to South Shropshire and Harrogate and crime writers et al. There appears to be no normality as we re-adjust to being at home. Our thoughts are miles away with conversations not only about what we’re have done but next July too. The conversations are relentless and there is joy in that. We can look ahead, meet-up with friends and people who matter the most. And then there is the wider family of writers, consumers and drinkers. In the meantime I will enjoy each day and concentrate on the present. I love to do that.

Pre Harrogate and Theakeston Old Peculier Crime Writers Festival and the arrival of their long-list I put aside the books I was reading. I have now picked two up and read small chunks at a time. The reason for that is a novel appears too easily in my hand!

I have gone back to Anni Domingo’s “Breaking The Maafa Chain” and David Olusoga “Black and British” Anni’s book has been well researched – she told me so – and her origin is Sierra Leone. The connections are obvious – Africa, Black People, Slavery and historical facts. One, an interesting ‘novel’, with detail, and hard facts with Osuloga. I have much to learn.

I have read C. L. Taylor’s “The Guilty Couple” I enjoyed it and reviewed it on this blog and on GoodReads. Just by chance a book club contact handed over a series by Frances Brody set in Yorkshires’ mighty industrial mill owning area. The first one “Dying in the Wool” I am enjoying. I dislike the word ‘cosy crime’ because it implies to me something not quite good enough! But that’s me. I appreciate good writing and she is good. Unlike ‘modern’ crime stories these are set in and after ‘The Great War’ within families that are several levels above the workers. Maybe not at an aristocratical level but wanting to be. I am loving it but I have not deserted Anni or David.

Also the writing world keeps on revolving. There is so much out there. I am re-considering each one of the poems in my collection on wildlife not jut on criminality but the beauty of our land too. We are fast approaching the ‘inglorious twelfth’ and I am wondering what will happen this August? Will Avian Flu, hot sun, drought and the threat off fires reduce the intentions of the shooters to only sip a Pimms in the shade and wondering about their need to quench their blood lust or not. I will be blogging it.

Connected with the last paragraph is Clover Stroud’s article on ‘The Right to Roam’ and the sound bite of “ TEENS HAVE MORE FREEDOM IN THE CITY THAN’ – in our beautiful countryside. There’s much room for thought and the need to write.

I am pleased to say that Nora Nadjaran made me aware of her workshop with crowcollectiveworkshops.com – Blurring the Genes between Prose & Poetry. I am already tempted without going into detail. I am working on that connection.

Author C.L. Taylor & The Guilty Couple

Book Review

Title. The Guilty Couple

Author. C.L. Taylor

Publisher. Avon – a division of Harper Collins

Publishers Ltd.

“C.L. Taylor is an international bestselling author. Her psychological thrillers have sold over a million copies in the UK alone, been translated into over twenty languages, and been optioned for television. C.L. Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and son.”

I saw and heard this author talking to Lucy Foley in Harrogate at Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. These were two authors I have never read and I was encouraged to check on what has been written before. Taylor is the author of eight others in this genre and I have some catching up to do. Now, we have a signed hardback copy to start the collection.

The cover will show out in any shop because it is easily seen with its large red letters on white and two backturned bed mates to add some flavour! What does the title imply? Something has gone on before we open the book and when I read the first chapter I was convinced this was special. I was enthralled by the manner in which the characters were introduced, the rapidity of change in scenarios and the way it kept on moving. It was fast with some shorter chapters helping it along. I loved it from beginning to the end. I am not a plot spoiler and it would take a treatise of some length to cover it all. Surprises all along the way and with scenes engineered so well. And then the ending – all for you to find out.

Two comments on the front cover are ‘Addictive. What an ending!’ And ‘A one-breath rollercoaster ride’. That sums it up and what else will follow this thriller.

“INFECTIOUS” CRIME WRITING FESTIVAL

This post is still on the theme of ‘infectious’ and following on from Mary-Ann’s comments of a couple of days ago. Michelle and I are no longer on our own, as we were, at our first writers festival in 2012. It is now a double family affair enlarged with good friends. And the new friends we have made there. We love it all.

We liked the old shop and we love the new Imagined Things Bookshop at 21 Montpellier Parade Harrogate HG 1 2TG even more. That blue is eye catching. We met Georgia again and her friendly smiley helpful staff. Does life get any better other than being in such a bookshop?

Michelle posted:

‘This time last week Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writers Festival had finished and I was trying to squeeze in all the books I had brought with me and all the new books into several suitcases. What a fabulous weekend made so much the better with family and friends which might as well be family. We met some fantastic authors, made friends whilst queuing to get books signed and enjoyed every second of it. Can’t wait for next year!! #hipwellgirlsontour’

Our new signed books. We collected them all simply to show off.
Michael Connolly, Michelle, John Connelly
Sammi, Tess Gerritsen & Joss

ANOTHER PERSONS REFLECTIONS FOR HARROGATE

This is a repeat of a post placed on Face Book by Mary-Ann Dunning about her experiences at Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate last week. I wanted, with permission, to show someone else’s enthusiasm for it and the enjoyment she had. There were photos too, of course, because she does that ever so well.

“I think it’s pretty evident that attending Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate is the absolutely best thing we ever do. We’ve had great fun being part of the Edwards family and becoming proxy auntie and uncle to the Hipwell girls. (All mad as a box of frogs 😆) The weekend just got better. ‘Chatted to some great authors. So chuffed to be photographed with the one and only Michael Connelly. When he stood next to me, he said “what do you want me to do?” My mind said “write me in as Harry Bosch’s new side kick!” But my mouth said “just stand there!” 🤦‍♀️ Another missed opportunity 🤷‍♀️ 😫

Abir Mukherjee is shouting us a meal at the Ristorante Grotta Palazzese in Polignano a Mare. We’ve sat at the same table, 12 years apart! I’d invite Vaseem Khan. The two of them would be the best company at dinner.

Sunday morning came and Lynda La Plante gave us a lively start and my chat afterwards with Denise Mina resulted in her very kindly offering help if I needed for Paradise Rescue Kennels. She was so lovely ( which you’d expect from someone who’s adopted a one eyed Podenco from Spain 😍)

The morning was eventually rounded off with my annual chat with our Boro lass Steph McGovern. She looking flawless and me having just been blown in on a storm, resembled the wreck of the Hesperus. Then all too quickly it was over. We just about survived the Leeds Bradford Airport experience and by 03.00, we were back home and tucked up in bed. Roll on next July!”

What an infectious read!

REFLECTIONS ON A TRULY GREAT FESTIVAL

SOME REFLECTIONS ON THEAKSTON OLD PECULIER CRIME WRITING FESTIVAL.

We’ve not been back a week yet with the in-house conversation being about Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival and not just this one but about the next one. Will we be there or will we not?

Apart from all of that we have discussed what this festival does for us. We now have the experience of attending seven of the last ten. The festival is now in its twentieth year and that is a celebration on its own. We were regular attenders of Writers Week in Listowell in the Kingdom of Kerry. They’ve had famous writers and poets round-and-about and they do love to chat. They love their music too but we decided it was time for a change. That has proved to be a great decision.

Our thoughts and ideas have evolved. Michelle is an avid reader and buyer and she has obtained numerous signatures. That can be hard work with getting into the book signing queue early with bags of books. I have helped her with my mule behaviour by lumping books about. Some have my name in them too! Nothing stays the same and she has made her own decision to get less signed and have the time and energy to enjoy events more.

I have always approached it differently to Michelle by doing as many events that is possible but realizing that it is more pleasurable to miss out one or two. Having said that our joint favourite will always be Val’s New Bloods. It is a mission to find writers that are new to me as well as being a new author just published. We have discovered many although they are in plain sight!

In 2020 I wrote several pieces on events and enjoyed the process. I was even pleased with them having reread them recently. But we all move on and to write each blog on the day was demanding of my time and enjoyment. Hence my reflection on this year. I have made some notes and I will comment later on my site about events and individual authors. The joy and the sparkle of seeing writers, readers, and drinkers rubbing shoulders is wonderful. The Commonwealth Games are known as ‘the friendly games’ and the event at The Old Swan is a friendly festival. We love it. Next year – more than possible – but I will still take more from this year as I reflect and write. More to come and not only my views either.

LUCY FOLEY & C.L. TAYLOR IN CONVERSATION

SATURDAY (23rd July) AT THEAKSTON OLD PECULIER CRIME WRITING FESTIVAL

It is another full day and this what we have come to expect from this festival. We kickoff at 9am with Lucy Foley in conversation with C.L. Taylor. So, it is about two girls having a chat but I came away with the notion that a some stage I will read their work. I had no prior knowledge of them and this is what I like to do – hear someone new.

The programme gives them the accolade of “Two of the fastest rising stars in crime fiction go head-to-head to discuss their books, themselves, and anything else that takes their fancy”. Yes they did all do that.

Lucy Foley rocketed to the top of the best seller charts with her astonishing crime debut “The Hunting Party” followed by “The Guest List”. Her new novel, “The Paris Apartment” is described as a classy thriller.

C.L. Taylor is the author of nine psychological thrillers eight of which have been Sunday Times bestsellers. Both will have a different take on the way they unfold their stories and I will look forward to that. So with murders and rapists we add psychology to the writers toolkit of how we can be entertained, tormented and shocked. I think that will be another interesting journey for me.

I always try and write these blogs in the present and on the day. This morning, Monday 25th I am at home in Spain with temperatures that will rise well above 30C. Sunday afternoon In Harrogate was wet and persistent. It was a ‘raincheck’ for me on what an English summer’s day can be like. I even enjoyed it.

I now have to refer to my notes. One of the subjects that does get a regular mention is why women write crime and why do women read crime. I looked around and estimated that the audience split was 20/80 in favour of women. Then the first two hands that shot to ask questions were men.

The conversation revolved around the characters in their books and we did not get a real plot spoiler. Throughout the weekend many things were said of how character are portrayed and even how we can like a perpetrator! Characters move stories and readers alike. They stay in our heads for a long time. Another facet was the combination of the actors on the page because after all they need someone to talk to. And they all have to fit into locations and it was said that writers work hard on being correct.

I enjoyed the chat and they both impressed me a lot. More on both of them later.

FRIDAY AT HARROGATE THEAKSTON OLD PECULIER CRIME WRITING FESTIVAL

Both Friday and Saturday are full days at Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival and today was not an exception. We had started with Paula Hawkins. There were several interesting events (as always) and I covered several but took time out to blog the first event. I can’t do it all. Also this year has become a family event with two more members arriving during the afternoon. And these relationships matter.

Three special guests for the day with the second one being Tess Gerritson. I left this one to the girls to enjoy as she is a reader that I do not follow.

Then we were at the Authors Dinner with fifteen tables each with a published author. Our lucky writer was Victoria Selma’s and she was great. We listened intently to the clues spoken by authors and we discussed in detail. It’s always a matter of interpretation and we didn’t quite get it right but I do have a copy of the paper feed for future use. So now I have a new writer to follow and her book to read – Truly Darkly Deeply which has been called a twisty psychological thriller that goes to the heart of how and who we love. It sounds a bit deep but I will give it a go.

The third special guest was the ultra successful Michael Connelly, the writer of Bosch and everything that goes with it. Michelle has read all his books and we will go back home with many signed copies of books we brought with us. He is so good to listen and he and Mark Billingham know each other well and so the conversation was seamless and ended too soon. Now to tomorrow and another full day.

PAULA HAWKINS IN CONVERSATION WITH NJ COOPER

SPECIAL GUEST PAULA HAWKINS WITH NJ COOPER

Friday morning came around too fast after yesterday evenings award ceremony and family drinking!

This was time well spent. We chuckled at the geographical locations of Clerkenwell, The City and Regents Canal as described by NJ Cooper knowing that it wasn’t really like that. Literary license, we allowed and then concentrated on what was a worthwhile discussion.

I have not read any of Paula Hawkin’s books although we have them at home and Michelle has read them. The Girl on the Train was a phenomenon with an estimated 23 million copies sold. This was followed by two Sunday Times number one best sellers – Into the Water and A Slow Fire Burning.

She is an acclaimed writer and the interviewer NJ Cooper is a very experienced author. The matters raised were skilfully asked and the conversation flowed. Most of the discussion as about the characters in her latest release ‘Blind Spot’, so the programme declares “reaffirms her mastery of twists and intrigue”.

I may well read her latest as everything said whetted my appetite. The characters were discussed with detail but with no plot spoilers. NJ Cooper highlighted Hawkins use of the phrase “It’s not my fault” which appertains to several of her characters. From the discussion the story will fall into the category of sadness and misery. One thing that interested me was that in the process of writing there should be joy with space to develop the tale. I liked that idea.

Another subject matter was ‘women write crime’ and looking at the visitors here women are over represented! We discussed why covers with nude lovely girls is acceptable but male men is a no-no. Strange that but I think we have been trained to accept that by what we see in front of us. It’s like the old rule where animal cruelty is unacceptable. Maybe rules are there to be circumvented or ignored!

Other comments were:

An idea cannot be copyrighted (but of course plagiarism is frowned upon)

Nowadays people say things because they can – disagree, complain or object often without a feeling of responsibility.

Paula allows her work to be seen by ‘sensitivity readers’. One of her characters has a disability and since she has had no personal experience of it she took care to get it right. Took some advice and overruled some. It pays to be careful.